Following a 2-0 loss at Carroll University last weekend, the Viking men’s soccer team felt they had something to prove to the Midwest Conference. Two challenges waited in St. Norbert and Monmouth, and the Vikings made their presence known.
Lawrence hosted St. Norbert College on Wednesday, Oct. 3 at Whiting Field West. The game proved to be the physical battle everyone expected from two close rivals. Early on, St. Norbert College imposed their will, beating Lawrence defenders and firing several shots on goal. St. Norbert sophomore Tom Daly took advantage of some defensive miscues on the near post and scored 14 minutes into the first half to put the Green Knights up 1-0.
In such a high stakes game, the Vikings were well aware of the benefits a short memory has following a mistake. They responded with junior Dan O’Mahoney’s goal off of fellow junior Cameron Pieper’s corner kick. Luckily for Lawrence, the goal seemed to have the opposite affect on the Green Knights than their first goal had on the Vikings. Suddenly, St. Norbert played a more conservative style, giving Pieper and company a lot of real estate to work with before heading into halftime tied 1-1.
The Vikings maintained momentum from that point on. They began the second half with a bang, as sophomore Darry Israel slipped a few defenders and scored just minutes into the half to give Lawrence a 2-1 advantage. Seniors Karl Mayer and Simon Newsom combined for the assist. Lawrence played stellar defense the rest of the way, only allowing two shot attempts the entire second half. Overall, Lawrence dominated the shot category 13-6 en route to a 2-1 win. The victory boosted Lawrence to (5-5-1, 2-2-1 MWC), while the Green Knights fell to (4-5-2, 1-2-1 MWC).
This strong play carried the Vikings into Saturday’s road test against the Monmouth College Fighting Scots. Lawrence dominated the first ten minutes of the game, but failed to score despite consistently controlling the ball in the Scots half. Once Monmouth broke Lawrence’s rhythm, the game went back and forth with neither team scoring before the half ended.
Frustration began to mount for the Fighting Scots in the first half when senior Logan Simpson yanked several shots that could have put Monmouth up 1-0. Unfortunately for the Fighting Scots, these opportunities were nowhere to be found in the second period. Lawrence was bound to break out against the weaker opposition and did so at the 56:34 mark, as Israel headed a cross to sophomore Oliver Newsom who knocked in the first goal of the game.
Monmouth’s frustration culminated with two yellow cards at 73:30, while the Vikings drained valuable time by controlling possession. This along with outstanding defensive play led the Vikings to a 1-0 victory. Once again, the Vikings overwhelmed the shot margin (10-2) in the second half. In addition, goalkeeper Kevin Aslett earned his second shutout in conference, as Lawrence improved to (6-5-1, 3-2-1 MWC). The win places Lawrence fourth in the MWC, just behind (4-2-0 MWC) Beloit.
The Vikings face (3-7-1, 1-4-1 MWC) Ripon on the road at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 9. Ripon has struggled mightily in their last four games with only one goal scored and scoring should be even tougher to come by against the Vikings.